Try as he might, Cole Roederer could not gain traction through the first two-plus months of the season. And while one game might not turn things around, Tuesday night would be the one he points to if he does.
The fifth-ranked Cubs prospect tripled in the ninth inning to complete the cycle -- and his first career five-hit game -- as Class A South Bend rolled past Fort Wayne, 10-4, at Parkview Field.
Video: South Bend's Roederer hits for the cycle
Needing a triple to complete the first cycle since the club began its affiliation with Chicago in 2015, Roederer fell behind in his final at-bat, 0-2. He launched the next pitch from right-hander Austin Smith to the left-field fence and slid into third to complete the franchise's first cycle since Fidel Pena recorded one on July 9, 2013. The club was known as the SilverHawks at the time as an affiliate of the D-backs.
Roederer said he wasn't necessarily trying to hit a triple, but when the ball began to bounce around in the outfield, he made up his mind to go for it.
"I wasn't really going for the cycle as much as one more good at-bat -- I wanted one more [hit] to get to 5-for-5," he said. "But I was able to get some lucky bounces out there and I ended up getting both, the hit and triple. When I came around second, I knew I had a shot and figured it was worth the risk. I was either going to get the cycle or get thrown out trying."
Gameday box score
Selected 77th overall in last year's Draft, the 19-year-old made his professional debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League, where he batted .275/.354/.465 with 13 extra-base hits, 24 RBIs and 30 runs scored in 36 games. Promoted to the Midwest League to begin this season, that success had eluded Roederer through April and May, when he hit .216.
The results have been better this month, which he punctuated with his perfect night against the TinCaps.
"I've had to deal with a lot of failure so far this season," Roederer said. "There are a lot of extra things you just need to push to the side and move forward. Handling that adversity and failure has been tough, but it's a learning experience and something I hope helps me down the line."
2019 Minor League milestones
Roederer lined an RBI double to right and scored in the Cubs' four-run opening frame, then singled to right in the third. He laced his second double of the game to right in the fifth and extended South Bend's lead to 8-0 with a two-run homer to right-center field in the seventh. His run-scoring triple in the ninth completed the 12th cycle in the Minors this season and the third in the Midwest League.
"I blew through the stop sign," Roederer said. "[Third base coach and manager Buddy Bailey] was holding me up ... I don't think he realized I was a triple shy. But I took off anyway and I think he figured it out because he was jumping around, too, as I headed in to third. All my teammates were yelling and cheering for me. Looking at them that excited for me was something I'll never forget."
The California native drove in a career-high four runs and scored three times in his third straight multi-hit effort. He's 10-for-14 with seven extra-base hits, six RBIs and five runs scored in that span after scuffling through an 0-for-16 stretch. Roederer is batting .247/.309/.409 through 49 games.
"These past few games have really helped mentally," he said. "I've been grinding in the cage with [hitting coach] Paul McAnulty and trying to find that confidence. The last few days I've been able to dial it in and do what I'm capable of. The whole season has been a real eye-opener for me. I just need to keep having good at-bats and good games and I believe everything will go the way I want it to."
2019 MiLB include
Delvin Zinn recorded his second five-hit game of the season for South Bend, while No. 22 Cubs prospect Christopher Morel fell a homer shy of the cycle on a 4-for-5 night. The trio combined for 14 of South Bend's 18 hits.
Riley Thompson (4-3) was overshadowed by his club's offensive outburst but turned in another strong start. The 27th-ranked prospect allowed one hit and one walk while striking out five over five scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 2.29, which ranks third in the league.
Michael Curry homered and drove in two runs for Fort Wayne. Starter Gabe Mosser (4-4) was charged with six runs -- five earned -- on 11 hits and three walks with three strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.